‘I’ve always wanted to come back’

Apsáalooke Nation’s first female medical doctor hopes to serve tribal community
Thursday, June 13, 2019
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Goldie Standsoverbull graduated from Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut May 20. She is the first Apsáalooke woman to become a medical doctor.

The first Apsáalooke woman to become a medical doctor, Goldie Standsoverbull, was always a smart kid, but even after moving to a different middle school, she said she was not challenged academically.

“I had a cousin on the east coast, so we started looking for schools out there,” she said.

Standsoverbull, who just graduated from Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, was 14 years old when she was accepted at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. She participated in a rigorous 6-day-a week college preparatory schedule. The school was founded in 1856 and serves over 500 students.

“Going there opened up a lot of opportunities,” she said.

After high school, Standsoverbull was accepted to Yale University where she studied biology, and thanks to her parents, she graduated in 2013 with no debt.

“I was blessed to receive family help,” Standsoverbull said. “I was lucky, because debt was not a contributing factor in what I decided to study in medical school.”

Standsoverbull focused on primary care medicine and recently moved to Seattle for a 3-year family medicine residency at the University of Washington Medical Center.

While in medical school, Standsoverbull completed a rotation serving Native patients in Arizona where she was accepted and trusted quickly, she said.

“I was surprised that they were excited to tell me things and share their lives with me,” she said. “There was a trust I gained with them that my non-Native colleagues couldn’t obtain.”

The trust between a doctor and patients is something Standsoverbull doesn’t take for granted.

“What intimidated me the most and continues to intimidate me, was the trust that people put in their medical team,” she said. “It’s humbling to see people put their lives in their providers’ hands.”

Standsoverbull will be working as a primary care physician. When her residency is complete, as a recipient of the IHS scholarship, she is obligated to serve four years in the Indian Health Service, hopefully, she said, in Crow Agency or an area nearby.

“I’ve always wanted to come back,” she said. “What we choose as a profession should be to some benefit to our people.”

Standsoverbull said her grandparents, Patrick and Sharon Standsoverbull, and parents, Russell and Donna Standsoverbull, all worked hard to impart the passion to serve the people into her.

“Primary care is the best use of my skills,” she said. “There are so many of our people who are at the extreme ends of chronic disease.”

Standsoverbull said focusing on prevention of chronic illness and building trusting relationships with patients are critical to the health of tribal peoples.

“The biggest advantage is that primary care is relational,” she said. “Building trust, making patients feel safe to be open and trust me, and at the end of the day it’s for their benefit.”